Agents and advisors bring organization, clarity and productivity to their clients’ financial affairs. Over time, their roles have expanded, moving beyond insurance and into investments, cash flow enhancement and real estate investing.
Not surprisingly, advisors are busier than ever. As a result, working efficiently has become more important. To work efficiently, advisors must set priorities and delegate responsibilities that take away from their core activities.
How do you decide what to prioritize and what to delegate? That depends on the individual advisor. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and each advisor has parts of their job that they feel more passionate about.
Creating the most effective practice involves identifying these areas and focusing on them while delegating tasks associated with your weaker skills.
By following this method, you can focus on the areas where you have the most skill and passion, and these represent your “giftedness.”
Identifying The Areas Of Focus
It takes some thought to identify where to put most of your time and energy. To get started, consider all that goes into your practice. Advisors wear many hats. They must be salespeople, analysts, accountants, tax experts, marketers, networkers, office managers, students and teachers. You already know how these varied roles keep your job exciting and lucrative. Clients need advisors with this mix of skills because they can offer holistic solutions.
When their practice is new, most advisors must take on all these responsibilities. This provides the advantage of sharpening new advisors’ skills and increasing their knowledge base. As the practice grows, the advisor must spend more time with clients and craft more complex solutions. When this occurs, it’s time for the advisor to ask themselves which activities to focus on and which to delegate.
At this point, advisors have several important questions to ask themselves:
What are my strengths?
What are my weaknesses?
Which parts of the business am I truly passionate about?
What energizes me? When I wake up in the morning and head to my practice, what most excites me about the day ahead?
What tasks do I dread performing?
I recommend dividing responsibilities into four categories of expertise, according to the advisor’s aptitudes and passions: areas of incompetence, competence, excellence and giftedness.
The Four Categories Of Expertise In Your Practice
Incompetent areas: Admitting weaknesses can be difficult for some of us, but we all have areas in which we are predisposed to struggle. For example, some of us are mechanically inclined while others break every machine they touch.
Advisors will always have competence in the core skills of the job, such as sales and presentation ability, product knowledge and analysis. Areas where advisors may struggle often involve the aspects of running a practice that don’t directly involve advising. Possible areas advisors should consider delegating include advertising, web design, social media marketing, IT, legal and business accounting.
None of these is an advisor’s core competency, so delegating these areas to an employee or outside firm is desirable.
Competent areas: These include the tasks you can do well, but they may not be a good use of your time and skills. For example, as a newly minted advisor, you may have not been great at cold calling. You’re still a competent cold caller, but you don’t have time because your clients keep you busy; however, if you stop prospecting, new business will dry up. It’s time to delegate appointment setting by hiring people to take on that task for you.
Excellent areas: These are tasks that you are great at but not necessarily passionate about. These tasks don’t get you excited or energized. I think of my own experience in dealing with legal and accounting issues as a financial advisor. I was good at dealing with the lawyers and accountants, but found that a day of these types of meetings left me drained. This was an area where I excelled, but not an area of giftedness. I needed to delegate this responsibility and focus on the aspects of the business that were my passion.
Giftedness areas: These are the tasks that give you energy. They fuel and excite you. You are both good at them and enjoy them. If you’re not sure what these areas are, ask the people around you. They’ll know.
For many advisors, sales presentations are an area of giftedness. The advisor feels passionate about what he does and loves helping clients build financial security and freedom. This comes across in sales presentations, helping the advisor win more clients. The advisor also has conversational skills, a smile for their clients and a love for demystifying complex products. This is the advisor’s giftedness and what the advisor should build their practice around.
As you start to grow and expand your practice, slowly and strategically shift more time and energy toward the areas where you are excellent and gifted. By planning your practice to grow around these areas, you set yourself up for success.
Success in any business requires long hours, diligence and patience. Fortitude is a must and focusing on your giftedness will give you the drive and energy to persevere.